I grew up on the river that is now the lake here. I could easily write a book about personal snake encounters.
I was twelve when the lake was flooded. The flood gates were closed in late fall, and you could walk down to the edge of the water that was all on cleared land. All along the water's edge, you could not take a step without stepping on a snake. They were moving just barely enough to stay out of the water that was now flooding them out of their homes. Most of the land down by the river was swampy, so Many snakes. Now even fifty years since the lake has been flooded, I believe we have more than our normal share, but everyone kills the poisonous ones, and I might go several years without seeing one, but we see non poisonous ones almost daily.
When our children were little, they wanted to keep a small Northern Water snake for a pet. There are many of those snakes here. Anyone who had riprap on the shoreline has Northerns. We bought fishing minnows to feed it. It grew to something over a foot long and got big enough to crawl out of the large aquarium it stayed in when it wasn't being handled. It didn't mind getting handled unless you went to find it when it got out. Then it would act pretty defensive, and give off an awful smell from its open mouth. The kids finally decided to set it free.
I've had quite a number of close encounters with large Cottonmouths, with the first being once at the swimming hole on the river. I was five, and had run ahead of my Dad. I ran right past the snake, and it started coming towards me, now at the edge of the water, and between me and my Dad. My Dad hit it with a stick that wasn't big enough to kill it, but it ended up going in the water and getting away. I have any number of stories about encounters with those big, fat dark ones. They make good stories around campfires, and kids always check their flashlights before the stories end.
Once the kids were out in the cove swimming, and I saw a large snake laying on the bottom between me and them. It was stretched out straight in about a foot and a half of water. I took one of the daggerboards out of one of the small sailboats on the beach, and slowly walked up behind the snake jabbing it behind the head, killing it.
From above the water, I had thought it was a Cottonmouth, but after I got it out of the water, it was too light. It looked like a Copperhead, but was long and bigger than any Copperhead I'd ever seen. The head was obviously a pit viper. Checking the internet, even back then, I was able to find identification by the scale pattern on the belly. It was a Copperhead.
It was 43 inches long, if I'm remembering correctly. I looked up the record size, and it was one inch shorter than the state record. One of the guys that works for me said, "Let's see if we can stretch him." We didn't try.
I restored an old house that had been sitting derelict for 50 years. The walls were literally full of Flicker nests. Rat Snakes lived in there too, eating the young Flickers. They're pretty docile snakes, even though these were all large and over four feet long. I was going up the stairs in the house one day, and met one coming down the stairs. As I passed it I said, "Wuzup?". I swear it looked like he did a little chin lift reply.
Actually, that "awful smell" doesn't come from the mouths of Watersnakes, it comes from their vents. Garter Snakes & Ribbon Snakes can do the same thing - release a horrid musky (sometimes fishy) smell from their vents when they're disturbed. It's meant to deter predators, & is one reason why Watersnakes aren't at the top of the list for snake keepers - lol! Keeping their quarters properly clean can be a full-time job.
I kept both Garter & Ribbon Snakes (who produce the same musky scent), & even they were hard-keepers as far as cleanliness. Less so once they became used to captivity & handling, but still much more difficult than rodent-eating species.
I haven't read all of the replies, so I apologize if this has been covered.
Nobody's mentioned the Snapping Turtle. I would worry more about the Snapping Turtle. They will bite the legs off anything in a skinny minute. Your children could be playing outside, might think they'd found a Box turtle and try to pick the Snaper up.
A few years back a big one wandered UP to my barn, he was right outside the barn door, headed in, looking for vittles.
I put him in the cooler chest and re-homed him a mile down the road, in the neighbor's scummy pond that the cows wouldn't even drink out of. That's the last I've ever seen of him.
There are Copperheads, Cottonmouths and Rattlesnakes in my area. I've seen Copperheads on the road sunning themselves.
I was on the 4-wheeler when I saw a Water snake so long that he covered one lane of the road and the rest of him was still over the embankment. It wasn't until later that I learned he was a Water snake and not a Water Moccasin.
We have Black snakes and I leave them be as they are faster than Viper snakes. They can hunt out the rodents, leaving the Viper snakes with nothing to eat and the Viper snakes move on.
Meaning, try to ID the snake first. If it's affordable, can you invest in a wild game camera?
Wow, what a beautiful copperhead! They are one of my top three favourite snakes, just mind-bogglingly gorgeous. All the individuals I have encountered though were soooo shy, I didn't get to look at them very long. Another one I don't hug, though --- but you bet I jump out of the truck and take 500 pictures from a safe distance, hee!
I have no idea how someone would "regularly" get bitten by a copperhead unless they use one as the softball in their town bar league or were just heinously oblivious to their surroundings or learning? My BFF's adult son has been bitten once, on the pinky finger. It did make him very sick and the venom dissolved the cartilage in the last finger joint, so it is fused now, but he is otherwise fine (snake breeder and lover, got a not so great idea when he was younger to have a pet copperhead. snake disagreed on its suitability.). He certainly learned that lesson quickly though, it's an experience one generally will take care not to repeat!
And don't be too hard on Bacardi for getting a bit snarky -- they also deal with misinformation regularly and it really does feel like you are smashing your face with a brick repeatedly, so it can be tough keeping your cool. I just happened to post when I was feeling calm and it's a weekend, LOL.
Wildlifer, you'd get along great with my kid. She loves snakes too. A couple of years ago she was feeding a nest of hibernating copperheads that were under a sheet of tin at my parents' house. She was getting mice from the traps and carrying them to "her" snakes. She knew they were copperheads too as she's been able to identify venomous vs non-venomous since she was tiny. She told me she was careful not to get withing striking range.
Sorry, but I have to ask... Just what does your friend do to "fairly regularly" get bitten by copperheads? Serious question because I think I'd be changing my behavior. I saw this thing: http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c1...ps1aaf9176.jpg the first year I moved to my house. Pretty snake but I keep an eye out now. I don't want to be bitten. I hear it hurts like a b@stard.
Originally Posted by Finzean
I need to get back to chores but couldn't resist - church?? LOL
I do know folks who work in jobs that have nothing to do with wildlife but seem to regularly put them in contact with various critters - i.e. a lineman contracted by power company
No, my friend put himself through college as a golf ball diver. We live near a resort community with a lot of golf courses. Kids with scuba gear dive the water hazards and retrieve lost golf balls, and the course owners pay them so much per ball. His best stories were about the gators, but he had plenty of snake stories too.
My friend said getting bitten by copperheads was a lot like a hornet sting raised to a power of ten. He'd get bitten on an average of once a year or so while he was ball-diving.
Originally Posted by wildlifer
I have no idea how someone would "regularly" get bitten by a copperhead unless they use one as the softball in their town bar league or were just heinously oblivious to their surroundings or learning?.
I know - IME copperheads are among the more tolerant of snakes. Sadly, my friend just had a talent for getting bitten by wildlife.
He's the only person I know to get bitten by a nurse shark. Apparently the poor thing was kind of buried on the bottom and my friend clocked it in the face with a fin during a dive. And the most chilled out of sharks retaliated by taking a chomp at him. They don't really have much for teeth, but it left a mark.
At the time of the nurse shark bite, my friend still had the staples in his leg from when the mountain lion got him (he supplemented his ball-diving by working at a local zoo - the mountain lion perforations resulted from a difference of opinion about applying ear medicine, IIRC).
He was sort of a "hey, y'all, watch this" kind of guy. Although his heart was in the right place - he never got bitten for intentionally tormenting anything. He just didn't always think things through.
The whole water snake/moc thing has been discussed. I am the only snake advocate here on my property. I am not scared of them, respect them, yes, but not scared. I had a banded water snake living in the barn a couple of weeks ago. Small for some of the water snakes I have seen. MAYBE 18" long. There was one on my back porch back in '07 after we received over 12" of rain after TS Fay came through. It was HUGE. And quite difficult to determine if it was a moc or not. Of course two days later, there was a big moc on the back porch and there was no doubt what it was. Both of my dogs were going after it, thankfully not bitten, and it was not leaving the porch. I did have some friends husbands come over and dispatch of it for me but I felt so horrible. It was the biggest moc I have seen.
I tried to tell my mom how to tell if it is a moc or not. The biggest thing is if you can see the eyes. The mocs have the slit pupils and the water snakes have round pupils. "happy" eyes vs "mean" eyes is how I broke it down to her.
I know I also have a black rat snake (pretty sure that is what it is - over 4' long, about 1-1.5" thick) that hangs around along with some corn snakes aka red rat snakes. I about stepped on a young corn snake a few weeks ago.
paint -- I might know this guy. There was a kid in grad school when I taught who wouldn't touch a salamander during class. I kind of teased him and was like, c'mon dude, it's a freaking salamander. He solemnly swore that EVERYTHING bites him. I told him it was a SALAMANDER, just come hold it.
I'll be damned if that little salamander didn't chomp onto his finger and dangle there while the kid resigned himself to it. I told him I stood corrected and he had my apologies. There is a first time for everything, ROFL.
Some people have a talent for getting bitten. My friend's problem was that, unlike your former student, he never learned to minimize his chances. Always had a houseful of snakes, worked around big cats, dove with sharks and gators. All of which have perforated him at one time or another. It amazes us all that he's still around - to me, he's living proof that wildlife isn't really out to kill us or some critter would've done away with him long ago.
Another snake person here Unfortunately all my neighbors want to kill every single snake they find. One idiot even shoots turtles in his pond.
He can't understand why he has all the poisonous snakes and I don't (I'm sure I do). I told him he's upset the balance of nature....the rat snakes will kill the bad snakes, and so will the turtles. I think it finally sunk in, no turtles shot this so far this year.
One of my daughters has loved snakes since birth. At 5, she tried to convince me it was ok for her to put a ring necked snake in her back pack to take it to school :0
I suggested maybe her teacher wouldn't be so appreciative.
My younger daughter has taken a bit more convincing, but she has now decided that snakes aren't all bad.
My husband is terrified of snakes, so he leaves them to me He did tell me once that we had a pygmy rattler under a pine tree, was just a hog-nosed snake which are super cool! I have also relocated a few coral snakes and once saw an indigo snake on my farm.....I haven't seen him in years but I was so glad he at least came through the farm.
For work I am a restoration ecologist so I don't actively try to catch snakes, but I am aware of them when working in the field and I love to get pictures when I can. My girls love living on a farm and know if I hand them a snake to hold, it is not venomous. They know to get me if they see a snake, as the pretty ones (like corals) are the ones I worry about the girls picking up due to their gorgeous color.
Anneke and a friend with a rat snake and then both my girls with another lovely rat snake.
Injured copperhead we found on a trail ride. Moved him off the trail.
I like snakes fine. Living in central AL, they are certainly here. Rarely see them, though. I have a black racer in the barn I'm glad to have. Eat those camel crickets and mice, please. Now camel crickets scare the bejebus outta me...